FAKE HOUSE by Linh Dinh


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A grab-bag of 21 nervy stories portraying Asian and American culture, separately and in conflict, by a Vietnamese poet who spent two decades in the US before returning to this homeland, and is also known for his editorship of an important anthology of Vietnamese fiction (Night, Again, 1996). The briefer stories here aren’t much more than fragmented vignettes of Saigon and environs in wartime and afterward; best are such mocking, jazzy tales as “Western Music,” “Hope and Standards,” and the bitterly comic “Dead on Arrival”; worst is (the really awful) “My Ministry,” about a strident preacher’s obsession with “saving” teenaged prostitutes. The longer pieces generally work better, because they concentrate on such vividly imagined characters as the title story’s prideful straight-arrow narrator, a prosperous mediocrity shadowed by his importuning “loser brother”; a “sexual shoplifter” (“The Ugliest Girl”) reduced to looking for love in all the wrong places; and the uptight virgin transformed by her infatuation with “A Cultivated Boy.” An interesting collection that would have been a better one if some of its weaker content had been omitted.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 2000
ISBN: 1-58322-039-9
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Seven Stories
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2000